A new class of drugs to combat AIDS will not cure the disease but will provide a powerful new weapon against the deadly infection, experts said Tuesday.
The new class of drugs, called proteinase inhibitors, attacks a different target in the AIDS virus reproduction cycle and may be better tolerated by patients than any of the AIDS drugs now on the market, said Dr. Ellen Cooper, director of clinical research at the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
“There is every indication that this class of drugs will be useful in treating HIV infection,” Cooper said. “It looks promising.”
Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. announced Tuesday that it is applying to the Food and Drug Administration for approval to market a proteinase inhibitor called saquinavir. It would carry the brand name Invirase.
“We’re prepared to move within four to six months,” said FDA spokesman Arthur Whitmore, noting that the AIDS community is anxious to have saquinavir available.
Other companies are developing similar drugs that are based on inhibiting proteinase, but Hoffmann-La Roche is the first to apply for marketing such a drug in the United States.